Poor is Shameful

I have to say first that I’m truly blessed to have the friends and clients that I have. Their kindness and generosity is truly heartwarming. Here is the situation: With Covid-19, my husband and I both are currently unable to work. As a massage therapist, my business has been specifically prohibited by an executive order from the Governor’s office. I have been unable to work for a month now, and I’m going through the difficult process of getting approved for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. I’m told that it could be up to another month before I hear anything on my application. My husband works in construction and was laid off 2 weeks ago. He’s applied for unemployment and is waiting to hear back. In the meantime, we took the opportunity to get our taxes done and discovered that because a) I was unable to pay my estimated taxes for last year, and b) my husband received a raise last year which means we underestimated our annual income for the Obama Care health plan we had, we are now looking at a $14,000 tax bill that we are unable to pay. My question is not about the money, specifically. We’ll find a way to pay it, I just don’t know how yet or what it will mean for us and our 7 yr old daughter.

My question is actually more about my friends and clients who have reached out to me, offering financial assistance, and not them specifically but my reaction to them. They know that since I’m self-employed that if I don’t work I don’t have an income. They know that my husband and I are worried and stressed. I’ve had clients reaching out to me and offering to drop off gifts, provide assistance with groceries if we need it, gas money, wanting to pay me for appointments that I had to cancel and they never received the massage, etc. I even had one client who simply mailed me a check. But I’m finding that I’m having a really hard time accepting their kindness and generosity. I’m having a hard time accepting the money.

It feels shameful to me. And I’ve started examining my thoughts on this, doing a thought download and running some models. I guess I’m having a hard time identifying the thought that is causing the feeling of shame. My thought download includes thoughts like, “Accepting money from others means that I’m a failure.” “Being poor is shameful.” “Not having any money means I’m lazy and financially irresponsible.” “Accepting offers of money from others is a manipulation of other people.” “I’m a bad person for accepting money from others.” These thoughts all come close, but putting my finger on the thought that really resonates with the feeling of shame has been elusive. Then, when I put them into the model, I’m having difficulty identifying the results that I’m creating for myself, and also creating a new thought that I want to think instead.

C: money
T: Accepting money from others is a manipulation of them.
F: shame
A: refuse the offer, avoid talking about it, pretend it didn’t happen
R: don’t value myself or them/their kindness

C: money
F: grateful
A: accept kindness when it’s offered